Look after your dogPosts

HEALTH MATTERS – Ear Infections

by Melanie Thomas

Ear infections are a common and painful condition for dogs, so we thought it best to address it so you know what to look out for and what to expect should your dog become a victim. Infection of the external ear canal (outer ear infection) is called otitis externa. Dogs with floppy ears tend to be more prone to ear problems so our breed could be of concern. It is a good idea with Bolognese to pluck the hair from the ears to improve air circulation and minimise risk.

CLICK LINK for related article

Ear Plucking – the Job everybody hates to do

It is important to check the ears as part of your regular grooming routine, look for redness, excess wax, discharge, thickening of the ear canal or odour. If your dog starts to scratch the ears or shake his head, check the ears straight away. Aside from infections, foreign bodies such as grass seeds can find their way into the ear and this will cause real distress to your dog with a sudden onset.

It is important to visit your vet if you are worried about your dogs’ ears to determine the root of the problems. Ear infections could be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, mites, foreign bodies, polyps or tumours. Your vet will carry out an examination with an otoscope (to look down the ear). A light on the otoscope helps the vet take a good look.

It may be necessary to take a sample of the discharge from the ear for examination under the microscope to determine the most suitable treatment. In chronic cases, further tests could also be needed such as culture and susceptibility tests.

Ear mites are usually associated with puppies or kittens (or dogs that have been around puppies or kittens). Ear mites cause a black discharge and cause your dog to shake his head and scratch at the ears. An ear mite infection can lead to a secondary bacterial or fungal infections.

Your vet will prescribe treatment which is likely to involve ear drops. If the ear canal is closed due to excessive swelling, anti-inflammatory medication may be given.

In recurring cases of ear infections, your vet may consider an underlining cause such as an allergy or hormone issue and carry out further tests. In really chronic cases, an operation called a ‘lateral ear resection’, that opens up the ear canal, may be needed to prevent ongoing infections.

Ear infections are uncomfortable for dogs and should be investigated quickly. Shaking of the head can cause an aural hematoma where the blood vessels rupture in the ear flap. Aural hematoma requires surgery to correct. Long-term ear infections can also result in a ruptured ear drum causing an internal ear infection and even loss of hearing.

So, be vigilant and check your dogs’ ears regularly and watch out for symptoms such as head shaking and scratching at the ears.

Melanie Thomas, Chairperson

Melanie Thomas, Chairperson

I live in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex with 2 Bolognese and I show one of my dogs.

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